Heading to brunch a few weeks back at one of the old (by California standards, anyway) stately mansions in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighbourhood, I caught sight of a Juju, the feather-festooned raffia hat donned by Cameroonian tribal chiefs and dignitaries to symbolise prosperity.
While my travels have yet to take me to Africa, my taste in interior decor is decidedly more global, especially since I discovered St Frank, a socially responsible start-up that partners with artisans around the world. It was on the St Frank website that I first developed a slight obsession with these exotic wall hangings – and there on Outer Sacramento Street I had unexpectedly found the nascent brand’s first bricks-and-mortar boutique.
The white-walled, sunlit space (second picture) presents a series of eminently liveable rooms, decorated, I imagine, by someone with many a passport stamp. Beneath those African hats (from $395, first picture), I spied a Moroccan cactus-silk rug (from $925, third picture) that I had been stalking online, alongside a number of other unique textile pieces. In the next room I came upon a bevy of intricately handwoven Guatemalan Huipil throw pillows (from $140, fourth picture), which had been populating my more materialistic daydreams of late.
The St Frank online portal presents, click-by-click, an annotated around-the-world design tour, encompassing Mexican Day of the Dead clay skulls ($225, fifth picture); vibrant striped Bolivian frazada (from $525, sixth picture), the woven wool rugs of the indigenous Aymara people; one-of-a-kind Uzbek daisy-decorated suzani wall hangings (from $3,500); and hand-beaded Yoruba crowns (from $595), bestowed upon newly enthroned kings to provide spiritual guidance.
I strolled among this utterly covetable collection “from all continents except Antarctica”, as I overheard one salesperson explain, then sank into a cowhide-covered chair with a café latte, musing that it wouldn’t do to show up late to brunch encumbered with shopping bags full of throw pillows. Instead I grabbed two adorable soft elephant toys ($40 each) made of hand-spun, natural indigo-dyed cotton by the Tai Lue people in northwest Laos for my friend’s twin daughters, and an ethically sheared baby alpaca throw ($225) for the host herself, to soften the blow of my unexpected yet unavoidable tardiness.